Milacron Inc. is launching an independent consulting firm, called Concentric Custom Services Inc., designed to help injection molding and extrusion companies improve profitability.
To head Concentric, Milacron named Bill Gruber, former president of Ferromatik Milacron North America. Gruber was reassigned last summer to head a new group focused on expanding value-added businesses such as service and support.
Cincinnati-based Concentric is the result of months of research and talking to processors, Gruber said. He introduced the firm at the spring meeting of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Machinery & Moldmakers Division, held May 5 in Palm Beach, Fla.
In a telephone interview, Gruber said Concentric is acting as a ``virtual company,'' signing contracts to affiliate with more than a dozen firms that provide services, materials and equipment. Concentric will identify its partners in July, he said. Some of the affiliates are from outside the formal plastics industry, offering, for example, financial accounting and facilities management.
Gruber said Milacron currently owns 100 percent of Concentric, but he said some affiliated companies have expressed interest in buying into the firm. Processors can use anybody's machinery; the consulting firm is not limited to Milacron customers or selling Milacron equipment.
Concentric Custom Services provides site-specific, a la carte services aimed at providing a measurable return soon after implementation.
``We help processors achieve real and measurable gains that are shared,'' Gruber said. ``We offer one source for a wide range of services focused on lowering fixed manufacturing overhead and direct labor contact through improved asset utilization.''
The ideal plant site is a location that generates less than $100 million in sales and employs fewer than 300 people. It's a big group: Concentric estimates there are more than 12,000 U.S. plastics injection molding and extrusion factories in that size range.
Concentric's services include training and consulting work for information technology, equipment, energy management, health/safety/risk management, control systems, facility maintenance, resins, mold design and financial services.
Employee training is a key focus. Gruber said the cost for set-up technicians, operators and trouble-shooting accounts for half of the annual operating cost of a machine over its lifetime. The turnover rate for plastics processing is more than 30 percent, Gruber said. Plus, skilled workers are needed to get into lean manufacturing, and to help a molder or extruder move beyond ``shoot-and-ship'' status.
Concentric will place a specialist at the site to conduct operator training, establish a preventive maintenance program and handle other duties.
Real-time reports, accessible through the Internet, help monitor the company's performance.
Gruber, a 30-year veteran of Cincinnati-based Milacron, moved to the plastics machinery part of the company in 1996.
Harold Faig, vice president of the Plastics Technologies Group, also is handling Gruber's old position as president of the Ferromatik North American business.